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Wildland Urban Interface;

Technology for Your Survivability


Curtis Brown
Rick Swan
January 18, 2016
Curtis Brown
Assistant Chief – CAL FIRE
Research Analyst – WUI Exposure Study

Rick Swan
Director – IAFF Wildland Fire Fighting 
Safety & Response
Chair NFPA Wildland PPE, Rural and Wildland 
Structure Protection
What is WUI?

• Wildlands
• Urban
• WUI – “where humans meet with
wildland fuel”
Interface Community
• Structures directly abut
wildland fuels. 250 people
/sq. mile

Intermix Community
• Structures are scattered
throughout a wildland area.
28-250 people /sq. mile

Occluded Community
• Structures abut an island of Interface Intermix Occluded
wildland fuels (e.g., park or Community Community Community
open space) – often within a
city.
The initial definition of urban wildland interface and the descriptive categories used in this notice are modified from “A Report to the Council of Western State Foresters—
Fire in the West—The Wildland/Urban Interface Fire Problem” dated September 18, 2000. Under this definition, “the urban wildland interface
community exists where humans and their development meet or intermix with wildland fuel.” Paragraph Citation 66 FR 753

Ecological Applications, 15(3), 2005, pp. 799–805 q 2005 by the Ecological Society of America
THE WILDLAND–URBAN INTERFACE IN THE UNITED STATES V. C. RADELOFF,1,5 R. B. HAMMER,2 S. I. STEWART,3 J. S. FRIED,4 S. S. HOLCOMB,1 AND J. F. MCKEEFRY1
http://silvis.forest.wisc.edu/old/radeloff_etal_ea2005.pdf
What is WUI?

• Wildlands
• Urban
• WUI – “where humans meet
with wildland fuel”

Interface Community
• Structures directly
abut wildland fuels.
250 people /sq. mile

Intermix Community
• Structures are
scattered throughout
a wildland area. 28-
250 people /sq. mile

Occluded Community
• Structures abut an
island of wildland
fuels (e.g., park or
open space) – often
within a city.
Wildland‐Urban Interface

• Distribution of WUI in the US
• All states has at least small amount of WUI and some have almost 75% WUI
• Across US, 9.9% of land is WUI
• WUI is concentrated along the eastern seaboard
• In Rocky Mountains and Southwest, virtually every urban area has large ring 
of WUI
• Although the WUI is not extensive along the west coast, it encompasses a 
high percentage of home, particularly in the fire‐prone areas of southern 
California
• Large Eastern and Southern States have the most land in WUI
• Smaller states, all in the Northeast except for North Carolina have the 
highest percentage of land in the WUI
• California, Florida, and Texas have largest number of homes where wildland 
vegetation is relatively dense
• Western states have the highest percentage of their homes in WUI
• Across US, 33.5% of all homes are in WUI
WUI AREA

Geographic extent Houses Population

km2 % Total % of U.S. Total % of U.S

Conterminous 
7,827,696 100.0 130,878,255 100.0 306,675,006 100.0
U.S

WUI 771,066 9.9 43,832,007 33.5 98,714,846 32.2

Interface 157,619 2.0 25,911,583 19.8 59,422,925 19.4

Intermix 613,447 7.8 17,920,424 13.7 9,291,921 12.8


Slide Title
Alabama
North Carolina
Connecticut
California
State by State WUI Maps

•State by State Web Site 
• http://silvis.forest.wisc.edu/maps/wui/2010/download

•The 2010 wildland‐urban interface of the 
conterminous United States report 
published in 2015
• http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/48642
WUI Fire Dynamics - Exposure

Exposure Source - initial


• Burning Vegetation
• Trees
• Chaparral
• Grasses

Arrows indicate fire


and/or ember
exposure

Ornamental WUI Fuel Targets


Vegetation
• Structures
• Ornamental
Vegetation
Vehicle
Structure • Vehicles
Ornamental
Vegetation
Vehicle Structure
WUI Fire Dynamics & Behavior -
Exposure
Exposure Source –
• Burning Vegetation
• Trees
• Chaparral
• Grasses
Community Exposure
Arrows indicate fire
Source
and/or ember • Structures
exposure • Ornamental
Vegetation
Ornamental • Vehicles
Vegetation

WUI Fuel Targets


Vehicle
• Structures
Ornamental
Vegetation
• Ornamental
Vehicle
Vegetation
• Vehicles
WUI Fires are Different – Time Scale

Time after fire front arrival 1 hour 3 hours 5.5 hours

Ignited from wildland fire  ≈ 50 ‐ ‐


front
Total Homes Ignited  ≈ 100 ≈ 250 ≈ 450
First Responder Apparatus 
37 63 64
in MSC

Waldo Fire Study – NIST 2015

~ 1 home/minute destroyed
50 structures ignited from wildland – cascading ignition of 400 structures
WUI Fires Require Rapid Response
Urban  Urban Fire  WUI  WUI Fire Wildfire  Wildland Fire Extent 
Response Extent of Damage Response Extend of Damage Response of Damage
Room of origin seconds Interface boundary minutes 100 acres hours
to Multiple Fire  to Multiple Land  to
One Fire  Floor of origin minutes Neighborhood hours 1,000 acres days
Departments Owners and 
Department
and  Jurisdictions
Multiple Fire  Building of origin Community 10,000 acres
Jurisdictions Mutual Aid
Stations
Mutual Aid
Surrounding buildings Part of City 100,000 acres

SOPs in place to work together across  Incident response must be developed BEFORE the  Time available to coordinate 


stations Incident deployment

Urban fires: seconds count


WUI fires: minutes count
Wildland fires: hours count
Wildfire Rankings
TOP 10 STATES FOR WILDFIRES
2014
Rank State Number of fires Rank State Number of acres burned

1 Texas 9,677 1 Oregon 984,629


2 California 7,865 2 California 555,044
3 North Carolina 4,625 3 Washington 386,972
4 Georgia 3,562 4 Alaska 233,561
5 Oregon 3,087 5 Arizona 205,199
6 Florida 2,436 6 Idaho 189,430
7 Alabama 2,093 7 Oklahoma 157,080
8 Montana 1,646 8 Tennessee 156,391
9 Arizona 1,543 9 Texas 131,138
10 Washington 1,480 10 Florida 101,599

Source: National Interagency Fire Center.
Gordon Graham

Non-
Discretionary
Time
High Risk Low Frequency Training

Identify locations that


pose the greatest
potential for high risk
incidents
High Risk Low Frequency Training

Discuss how we would


respond to these
incidents and compare
ideas and different
methods on the most
effective way to handle
them

Identify locations
that pose the
greatest potential
for high risk
incidents
High Risk Low Frequency Training

Use knowledge and information


obtained from walk throughs and
pre-plans to identify specific
hazards that could result in an
incident we don't commonly
encounter
Discuss how we would respond to these
incidents and compare ideas and
different methods on the most effective
way to handle them

Identify
locations that
pose the
greatest
potential for
high risk
incidents
High Risk Low Frequency Training

Create a mock scenario using aerial


images, floor plans, and hydrant
locations and form an incident
action plan covering our response,
tactics, staging, etc.

Use knowledge and information 
obtained from walk throughs
and pre‐plans to identify specific 
Discuss how we would
respond to these incidents
hazards that could result in an 
and compare ideas and incident we don't commonly 
different methods on the
most effective way to
encounter
handle them
Identify locations
that pose the
greatest potential
for high risk
incidents
What We Do Know

• Time Matters

• Crew Size Matters 
• Initial Attack Effectiveness Study, San Diego State 2010

• This is a problem across both the United States and Canada

• Facts are that vegetation burns

• Understand & Prepare
Firefighter Research
California State University San Marcos
San Diego State University
International Association of Fire Fighters
CAL FIRE
CAL FIRE Local 2881
National Institute of Standards and Technology
US Department of Agriculture 
Forest Service
America Burning 1973
•More emphasis on fire prevention 
•Improved training and education 
•Community education/outreach
•Building design and materials
•Identified Research Priorities
•Urban focused…
Structure Fire Statistics
1971 2012 Percent Change
Deaths 7,570 2,385 ‐ 68.5%
Property Loss $12.85 Billion $7.10 Billion ‐ 44.7%
Structure Fires 996,900 374,000 ‐ 62.5%
Tens of
Injuries 13,050 ‐ 65 to 85% (est)
Thousands
US Population 205 million 314 million + 35%
Wildland Urban Interface (WUI)
• Interface – a condition where structures abut the 
wildland
• (e.g. housing tracts)

• Intermix – a condition where structures are 
scattered throughout the wildland area
• (e.g. each structure is assessed independently)
Wildland Urban Interface
• WUI 277,668 square miles 
• 45 million housing units  ‐ and growing…
• WUI is widespread in the eastern US
• maximum of 72% of land area in Connecticut
• California has the highest number of WUI housing 
units of any state (5.1 million)
CALFIRE Symposium  Sacramento  June 16, 2014

Climate Change and Wildfire in California
Dan Cayan
Scripps Institurion of Oceanography, UC San Diego  and US Geological Survey

Since 1985 the number of large wildfires in


western U.S. increased four-fold
(relative to previous 15 years)
30
Anthony Westerling et al.   Science  August 2006
Southern California Changing Rainfall
•California ‐ 4% of wildfires are natural events
•US ‐ one in six wildfires damages 
transportation infrastructure
•US ‐ One in ten includes structures 
~3,000 homes are lost each year
•Increase from 3 million to 7 million acres 
burned each year since 1970
•Shift from “traditional” wildland firefighting 
to WUI firefighting and structure defense 
tactics

•40% of our homes located in WUI 

•We worry about the structures and 
infrastructure more than ever before
Paradigm Shift

Wildfire   WUI Fire

Fire Season   Fire Year
Perspective of Success?
2013‐2015 Firefighter Exposure 
Research

San Diego State University


US Forest Service
CAL FIRE Local 2881
CAL FIRE
•Incident Type
•Controlled Burn  ‐ 24 firefighters
•Wildfire Event  ‐ 40 firefighters
•Training/Hoselays ‐ 31 firefighters

•Ranks
•Firefighter  ‐ 72
•Engineer  ‐ 11
•Captain  ‐ 12
Firefighter Data
•Gender, Age, Weight, Height
•Hydration (start and end)
•Step Test
•Nicotine Use
•Food/Drink (prior)
•Gender: 93 males; 2 females

•PPE:
•24 Double Layer
•70 Single Layer

•Nicotine Use: 15/95
Age Step Test Height Weight
Average 28.7 28.4 70.6 187.6
St Dev 6.7 4.6 2.8 23.9
Median 26 27 70 185
Minimum 21 21 65 150
Maximum 50 39 79 265
Height and Weight
245

225

205
Weight (lb)

185

165
y = 4.4034x ‐ 123.28
R² = 0.2673
145

125
65 67 69 71 73 75 77 79
Height (in)
Step Test Results
65

60
y = ‐0.5124x + 66.676
R² = 0.23996
55
VO2 Max

50

45

40

35

30
20 25 30 35 40 45 50

Age
Start Hydration

Hydra on
1.045

1.04

1.035
Start Hydra on

1.03

1.025
y = 0.6099x + 0.3999
R² = 0.2792
1.02

1.015

1.01

1.005
1.005 1.01 1.015 1.02 1.025 1.03 1.035 1.04 1.045
End Hydra on
Sensor Data
•BioHarness •Air Temperature
•Heart Rate •Wet Bulb Globe
•Breathing Rate •Relative Humidity
•Activity •Black Bulb Temp
•Front PPE Temp •Ground Temp
•Core Body Temp
•Carbon Monoxide
Ac vity Vs. Heart Rate
1.4

1.2
y = 0.0086x ‐ 0.5792
R² = 0.48828
1
Ac vity

0.8

0.6

0.4

0.2

0
75 85 95 105 115 125 135 145 155 165 175

Max Heart Rate (BPM) (per minute)


9:00
9:13
9:26
9:39
9:52
10:05
10:18
10:31
10:44
10:57
11:10
11:23
11:36
11:49
12:02
Max of Heart Rate
Max of Core Temp

12:15
12:28
12:41
12:54
13:07
13:20
13:33
13:46
13:59
14:12
14:25
Core Temp and Heart Rate

14:38
14:51
15:04
15:17
15:30
15:43
15:56
16:09
16:22
16:35
16:48
17:01
Heart Rate Vs. Respiratory Rate
60
Respiratory Rate (Breaths Per Minute)

50

40

30

20

10

0
70 80 90 100 110 120 130 140 150 160 170

Heart Rate (BPM)


Number of
Factor Value Firefighters Percent
Max Core Temp 103.5 ‐ 104.2 10 10.5%
Max Core Temp 102.0 ‐ 103.0 77 81.0%

Max Heart Rate > 220 25 26.3%


Max Heart Rate > 200 66 69.5%
Ground Temperature
•Regular radiant exposure above 100°F

•Maximum radiant exposures >150°F
2015‐16 Firefighter 
Smoke Exposure Study
California State University San Marcos
International Association of Fire Fighters
National Institute of Standards and Technology
CAL FIRE Local 2881
CAL FIRE
Smoke Exposure
Wildland WUI Fire
•Vegetation •Vegetation
•Structures
•Infrastructure
•Vehicles
•Ornamental Plants
Past Studies
•Literature Review
•2,028 identified articles
•Specific Focus: 194 articles
•85 for wildland fires
•67 for structure fires
•49 for vehicle fires
•15 ‐ both structure and wildland fire
Hazard and Risk Assessment
•The type of study 
‐exposure study, materials study, incident 
analysis 
•Whether the study specifically addressed 
firefighting or firefighters
•Whether the study addressed smoke
‐generally and specific contaminants
Hazard and Risk Assessment
• Key constituents 
• HAPs, PAHs, VOCs, PM, CO, NOx, etc.

• SCBA or respirators evaluated

• Vehicle fires
• tunnel fires vs. general combustion
Findings
•Nearly ALL studies isolated vehicle, 
structure, and wildland fires as 
separate incident types

•Highlighted need for comprehensive 
study of all risks as a WUI event
Results
Incident Type HAPs PAHs VOCs PM CO
Structure Fire Total 14 8 8 9 16
Vehicle Fire Total 4 5 6 2 8
Wildland Fire Total 2 8 19 26 25
GRAND TOTAL (N=194) 20 21 33 37 49

Incident Type CO2 NOx SO2 Benzene Cyanide Acids


Structure Fire Total 5 5 3 3 14 4
Vehicle Fire Total 5 2 1 4 3 3
Wildland Fire Total 2 3 1 9 6 2
GRAND TOTAL (N=194) 12 10 5 16 23 9
Results
Firefighter Wood
Incident Type Study Heat Combustion
Structure Fire Total 27 5 8
Vehicle Fire Total 8 6 1
Wildland Fire Total 49 0 17
GRAND TOTAL (N=194) 84 11 26

SCBA and/or Tunnel


Respirator Use Study Tire Fires*
Structure Fire Total 4 NA NA
Vehicle Fire Total 1 12 5
Wildland Fire Total 4 NA NA
GRAND TOTAL (N=194) 9 12 5
Current Research

•Laboratory Scale Testing – NIST 
‐Contaminants in smoke

Vehicles, Structures, and Wildland
Current Research

•Field Testing – CSUSM & CAL FIRE
‐WUI Incidents
‐Wildland Incidents
‐Controlled Burns
Contaminants Evaluated
•Particulates •Sulfuric Acid
•Carbon Monoxide •Hydrochloric Acid
•Carbon Dioxide •Hydroflouric Acid
•PAHs •VOCs
•NO, NO2 •Benzene
•SO2 •PAHs
•Cyanide •PM
Carbon Monoxide
•Sensors deployed with Firefighters
‐Controlled Burns and Wildfires
•Consistent exposure above 400ppm
•Peak exposures = 1,200 (2,800 max)
‐Mop‐up had regular exposure
‐Exceeding occupational exposure limits
2014 CAL FIRE
Local 2881
Representing the Professional Firefighters of CALFIRE

Symposium
California Wild Fires & Statewide
Challenges
Key Recommendations
• Advance Research
• Education and Training
• Policy and Regulations
• Health and Safety
• Advancing PPE, Tactics, and Long‐
term Studies
• Communication and Coordination
• Community Protection, Outreach, 
and Education
• Information Access
• Federal Blue‐Ribbon Commission
Slide Title

Questions/Comments